Adopted by the International Whaling Commission in 1994, the Southern Ocean Sanctuary provides long-term protection to around three quarters of the world's remaining whales on their feeding grounds.
The sanctuary is designed to allow the natural restoration of an ecosystem devastated by commercial whaling. Some whale populations had been reduced to a tiny fraction of their original numbers by commercial whaling. From an initial population of around 250,000 blue whales only about a thousand now remain.
In 1994, the IWC voted by 23 to 1 to adopt the majority of the Southern Ocean south of 40ºS as a sanctuary in which all commercial whaling is prohibited. Japan was the only country to vote against the Sanctuary and lodged an objection to the extent that it applies to minke whales. The Southern Ocean Sanctuary came into effect on 6th December 1994 for an indefinite period, but was reviewed in July 2004 at the 56th meeting of the International Whaling Commission. Its the continued existence was put to a vote and was the most significant vote for whale conservation taken in the IWC since the morotorium adoption many years previously.
The Japanese are in violation of IWC regulation 19(a). The IWC regulations in the Schedule to the Convention forbid the use of factory ships to process any protected stock: "19. (a) It is forbidden to use a factory ship or a land station for the purpose of treating any whales which are classified as Protection Stocks in paragraph 10. Paragraph 10(c) provides a definition of Protection Stocks and states that Protection Stocks are listed in the Tables of the Schedule. Table 1 lists all the baleen whales, including minke, fin, and humpback whales and states that all of them are Protection Stocks.
In addition, the IWC regulations specifically ban the use of factory ships to process any whales except minke whales: Paragraph 10(d) provides: “(d) Notwithstanding the other provisions of paragraph 10 there shall be a moratorium on the taking, killing or treating of whales, except minke whales, by factory ships or whale catchers attached to factory ships. This moratorium applies to sperm whales, killer whales and baleen whales, except minke whales.” Fin and humpback whales are both baleen whales and are subject to this moratorium.
To get around what is a blatant breach of IWC regulations the Japanese abuse the Permits system. But really...
In the discussion of these permits in the Commission, an additional factor raised is that the catches take place within the Southern Ocean Sanctuary declared by the IWC in 1994 (to which Japan lodged an objection with respect to minke whales). If a Sanctuary is in place, it can be argued that information on improving management of whaling in that region is unnecessary. On many occasions, the Commission has (by majority vote) passed a Resolution urging Japan not to issue a permit for these catches.
Mean while REAL whale scientists that have been ignored for decades by the Japanese Fisheries Agency are starting to fight back. Japans Fin Whale black market has been exposed once more and brought legitamacy to those that oppose Japans whaling under the UN charter for wildlife.
Forget the Australian Navy or Sea Shepherd shutting down the Japanese whale poachers.
An international team is already forming to do it once and for all.
There is no difference from a poacher who kills a rhino, to one that kills a Fin Whale.
Equality for all